Insights to Impact

The Latest from Brooklyn Community Foundation


Mapping Our Support for Immigrant Rights across Brooklyn

From providing legal services to organizing healing spaces, the groups we fund use a wide variety of tactics to promote transformational change in Brooklyn. As this summer’s programs intern, I have had the opportunity to read applications from organizations seeking funding through our grant programs, as well as reports from grantees on their progress over the past year. Getting to know these organizations has deepened my understanding of the needs of Brooklyn community members.  

In addition to support visits and on-going conversation with grantees, we learn about our grantees’ efforts through a short report-back on their work. We look at the whole story to find what is transformational, not just transactional, as data in nitty-gritty spreadsheets and percentages can often be. Raw numbers of how many grantees serve a specific region are helpful, but they fail to emphasize the humanity and context behind the data. It is difficult to see how our support directly responds to current events, politics, and other lived realities of Brooklyn community members. Visual data is not only more eye-catching, but it also shows these trends at face value, more clearly revealing strengths and weaknesses.

One of my favorite projects has been mapping the neighborhoods and communities our Immigrant Rights Fund (IRF) grantees serve. This map includes all organizations IRF has funded from its origin in December 2016 to June 2018. IRF was created in wake of the 2016 US Presidential election and the resulting surge of overtly anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies. Through IRF, we fund organizations to both respond quickly to imminent harm and to build  long-term, sustained programs to support immigrant rights. In particular, organizations reacted to significant political events like the discontinuation of DACA, TPS, and the Muslim travel ban. Nearly 40% of Brooklyn’s population are foreign-born and 7% are undocumented, so our support of local organizations is especially critical.

How to Use the Map: Click on any region of the map to find out more about organizations working in a particular neighborhood. To change what you see on the map, click on the arrow icon in the top left corner. The "Neighborhood Boundaries" tab shows where neighborhoods begin and end. To see which organizations serve the entire borough, check the “City- and Borough-wide Organizations” tab. Under the "Neighborhoods with List of Organizations” tab, if you click on the name of a region in the sidebar, the map will zoom in and list organizations specifically serving that area. Under the "Organization Regions" tab, if you click on an organization in the sidebar, it will zoom in and show you the name of the region it serves. Organizations serving multiple regions have multiple listings.

Looking at our IRF portfolio on neighborhood lines, we can begin to answer key questions: Where are we concentrating our support? Where do we need to ramp up our efforts? Does our map overlap with where immigrants need the most support?

The majority of neighborhood-specific programming takes place in southwest and central Brooklyn, with the most (7) serving Sunset Park. Services are least represented in southern neighborhoods, with only one IRF grantee specifically serving Sheepshead Bay. There are seven neighborhoods with high immigrant populations where we have not yet targeted funding efforts (e.g. Gravesend, Coney Island, Dyker Heights). More East Asian and Eastern European immigrants tend to live in these neighborhoods. Our support primarily focuses on communities receiving the brunt of anti-immigrant policies and sentiments--lower-income Black and Brown immigrants from the Caribbean and those with Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African backgrounds.

Trends in types of services provided lean toward civic engagement and community organizing for civil rights. While some grantees offer some social services, we can expand our support for mental and physical health as well as celebrations of immigrant arts and culture. Using the arts as a vehicle for social change takes advantage of knowledge, talent, and creativity already present within the community to promote healing and expression. Currently, our priorities are in advocacy and legal services, reflecting many immigrants’ urgent need for fast legal action in response to threats of detainment and deportation in the current political climate. Providing energy and stability for immigrants in this time of policy uncertainty comes first and foremost.

Going forward, as anti-immigrant policies worsen, families continue to be separated due to deportation, and state-sanctioned child abuse is still practiced at the border, these findings call for intensified outreach to communities with large immigrant populations and focus on a more diverse array of service options. I am proud of our efforts to empower immigrant communities of color, and I am excited to keep supporting their resistance and resilience.

To learn more about how the Foundation supports immigrant rights, read about our Immigrant Rights Fund and our Invest in Youth initiative's immigrant youth focus.


Dorothy Jiang

Program Intern
Looking at our IRF portfolio on neighborhood lines, we can begin to answer key questions: Where are we concentrating our support? Where do we need to ramp up our efforts? Does our map overlap with where immigrants need the most support?